This is definitely a destination that you need to learn more about, and visit!
About 2 hours from Grand Canyon National Park, and about 3 hours from Las Vegas, you will find Grand Canyon Caverns, tucked away on historic Route 66. This is a perfect visit between the two, and is included in the Grand Canyon National Park Tour with National Park Express.
Fast Facts About Grand Canyon Caverns
Inside The Caverns
The Grand Canyon Caverns are the largest dry caverns in the United States, perhaps the largest dry cavern system on earth. At a constant 57 °F (14 °C) with only 2% humidity year round, the caverns are always comfortable inside whether it is a hot summer or cold winter on the outside. The main tour takes our Guests through the first room of the cavern, along trails that are paved and lined with handrails. The tour is about 3/4 of a mile long and will take you past our famous suite, crystal formations, Bob, a mummified bobcat, a prehistoric ground sloth and view of the exclusive Grotto Dining room. Overnight guests will have more tour options including a deeper tour for explorers and even a ghost tour at night. Overnight guests also have the opportunity to dine in the Grotto Dining Room, with a unique elevator for meals from the kitchen.
How Do You Get Inside?
Today there is an easy elevator ride that lowers guests 210 feet below the ground. So it is a very quick and comfortable ride down into the caverns.
What is the Name of the Caverns?
In 1927, Walter Peck discovered the caverns and named them Yampai Caverns. Later, they were named The Coconino Caverns. From 1957 through 1962, they called The Dinosaur Caverns. And finally, in 1962, they were renamed The Grand Canyon Caverns.
What Does the Destination Include?
The area includes a hotel, (The Grand Canyon Caverns Inn), an RV park, campgrounds, a restaurant, a convenience store, and a 5,100-foot (1,600 m) runway. Accommodations include 48 vintage Motel rooms, a three bedroom Ranch House, Bunk House Village, and of course the Cavern Suite. All guests enjoy a complimentary continental breakfast and free wifi access.There is also a playground, a lending library and free pool access in season. On the grounds, guests can also enjoy the hiking trails. Parking is free.
The Cavern Suite
The famous Cavern Suite is one of the most unique accommodations on Earth. It can sleep up to 6 guests, and is located 210 feet underground. Included your own Suite Attendant, full room service, kitchenette and TV with a DVD library. There is no cable or Wifi to interrupt your good night sleep. An overnight stay also includes a Standard Caverns Tour or a Ghost Walk Tour. It is about $1,000 per night, and must be booked well in advance due to its popularity.
Guests staying overnight in any of the accommodations have the luxury of enjoying additional tour options, dining underground, and exploring the grounds. There are also options to enjoy a Grand Canyon Raft Trip on the nearby Colorado River, in the Grand Canyon. This can be booked when staying two or more nights at Grand Canyon Caverns.
Cavern Natural History
The Grand Canyon Caverns are located on the Coconino Plateau, near the Aubrey Cliffs rise to up over 6,100 feet (1,900 m) above sea level. The caverns lie in an alluvial plain and are at an elevation of 5,300 feet (1,600 m). Most of the area of the plateau is limestone, which is the makeup of the caverns as well.
This area, 345 million years ago, was covered by ocean waters. The skeletons of sea life settling on the ocean floor created layers of mud with a high percentage of calcium. This eventually hardened into limestone, which can be seen in the caverns in our day. Over many millions of years, this ocean floor, or bedrock, was pushed up over 5,000 feet (1,500 m) above sea level.
About 35 million years ago, rainwater flowed down into the rock. Among other things, this erosion helped form the Grand Canyon and eventually developed the Colorado River. Millions of years later, evaporating water left calcium deposits within the caverns and created the forms that you can see inside.
Near the natural entrance, the skeletal remains of an extinct, giant ground sloth, Paramylodon harlani, were also found. This sloth lived during the same period as the saber toothed cat and the woolly mammoth, in the Age of Mammals around 11,000 years ago.
In 1927, Walter Peck accidentally discovered the caverns. He had been searching for gold, which he did not find. But after he found the caverns, he opened the caverns to interested visitors as word began to spread. Back then he charged 25 cents admission.
The original, natural entrance was sealed off at the request of the Hualapai Indians as it was considered a sacred burial place. In 1935, the CCC (Civilian Conservation Corps) built a new entrance to the Caverns. And finally, In 1962, the present entrance was built by blasting a 210-foot (64 m) shaft into the limestone. A large elevator now whisks guests down into the caverns.
In 1962, during the Cuban Missile Crisis, the U.S. Government made the caverns a fallout shelter. Supplies were placed below for up to 2,000 people. Today, these supplies remain down in the caverns.
In July, 1979, a giant underground muon telescope was installed 126 feet (38 m) below the surface. This cosmic ray telescope was installed with the support of the National Science Foundation and the Atmospheric Sciences Section, with considerable assistance from the management and staff of the Grand Canyon Caverns. This new telescope extended the viewing range of underground telescopes that were operational in New Mexico and Bolivia. These telescopes detect cosmic rays. The relatively low humidity and nearly constant temperature of Grand Canyon Caverns assist in the accuracy and efficiency of the telescope.
Historic Route 66
Route 66, also called The Main Street of America or The Mother Road, is the historic route that connected Chicago with Los Angeles. U.S. 66 was established in 1926, with highway signs erected in 1927. This important transportation route helped to build the population in California. It grew into pop culture with the hit song Get Your Kicks on Route 66, and the hit TV series Route 66.
Your Reason to Visit Grand Canyon Caverns
You may enjoy a quick visit on the back to Las Vegas from Grand Canyon National Park. Or you might choose to stay overnight and explore more of the caverns, enjoy a Ghost Walk Tour, relax in comfortable accommodations, and maybe even dine underground. Perhaps you will also add a raft trip inside nearby Grand Canyon. Whatever your aim, this destination will be sure to add to your adventure. So make a plan to visit Grand Canyon Caverns soon.